Narmada Samachar: 16 April 2001

Headlines


All this (and more) news can be accessed via the Press Clippings page at:
     http://www.narmada.org/pressclippings.html
The NBA press releases are accessible at:
     http://www.narmada.org/pressrelease.html

Archives of Narmada Samachar are accessible at:
     http://www.narmada.org/scripts/subscribe.html



Killing of Adivasis in Dewas, MP

We have added another report by a four-member team of the 'Rajasthan Kisan Sangathan'. It corroborates the earlier report by 'Jan Sangarsh Morcha' and provides more details. The report is accessible off the main page of the Narmada website and also at: "http://www.narmada.org/related.issues/tribal.issues/rajasthan.kisan.sangathan.report.html"

We have an online web-based petition to send an automatic e-mail to Digvijay Singh, the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh. Please visit "http://www.narmada.org/action.alerts/dewas.alert/ and send an email immediately.

We notice that there is a pattern of discrimination against tribals in Madhya Pradesh as can be judged by the quick succession of events in the recent past. These are:
- arrest of tribals and their representatives who were protesting the lack of rehabilitation in the Man dam project.
- the Dewas incidents culminating in the death of four tribals.
- police firing in Chikalda on April 14th when people affected by the Sardar Sarovar Project were protesting the lack of rehabilitation.

Please write to the Madhya Pradesh Government about this.

Besides Madhya Pradesh, tribal communities seem to have become easy targets of exploitation around the country. In this edition of Narmada Samachar, we reproduce the letter by the Secretary of Naga Women's Union in Manipur who has written in EPW about the Tipaimukh High Dam Project.



SSP-related news

NBA Press Release

Supreme Court Again Comes Under Harsh Criticism On Narmada Verdict
Prominent People Ask Court To Make Them Party To Contempt Proceedings
Against Patkar and Roy
Narmada Parikrama Concluded
;
NBA Press Release - April 11, 2001

Narmada villagers stop fake survey;
M.P. police fire in air, beat and injure many; Chikhalda people block highway
;
NBA Press Release - April 14, 2001

Legal Notice Served To M.P. Dy Chief Minister Jamuna Devi by NBA
and Medha Patkar: 'Apologise Or Face Legal action'
;
NBA Press Release - April 14, 2001

Parikrama Update ;

Press Clippings

Patkar dares Supreme Court on Narmada issue ;
Hindustan Times - April 10, 2001

Court summons Patkar in NCCL defamation case ;
Indian Express - April 13, 2001

SC rejects Narmada dam review petition ;
Economic Times - April 13, 2001

SC rejects review petition in Narmada dam case ;
Hindustan Times - April 13, 2001

SC rejects NBA plea for judgment review ;
Times of India - April 13, 2001

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has again rejected the
Narbada Bachao Andolan's petition seeking a review of
its earlier judgment which gave a partial go-ahead for
construction of the controversial Sardar Sarovar Project
in Gujarat.

A Bench, comprising Chief Justice A S Anand, Justice S P
Bharucha and Justice B N Kirpal, rejected the review
petition, which sought reconsideration of the majority
judgment by Justice Anand and Justice Kirpal. Justice
Bharucha had dissented on the issue.

Justice Anand and Justice Kirpal said they went through
the review petition and ``did not find any error apparent
on the face of the record which may call for review of
the majority judgment''. The Bench said the issue of
correctness of the majority judgment raised by the NBA
in its review petition was outside the purview of such a
petition.

Justice Bharucha said as two judges have declined to
review it, the petition has to fail. He, however, added
that he stood by his dissenting judgment. Justice
Bharucha had ordered immediate stoppage of work at
the site saying the same could be resumed only after
clearance from impact group in the environment
ministry.

The court by a majority judgment had said construction
work to raise the dam's height to 90 metres could be
taken up immediately but beyond this, it could be
taken up only in stages after getting clearance from
environment authorities.

The Narmada Tribunal had envisaged 138 metres to be
the height of the dam, which would benefit Gujarat,
Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.


Water issue

Water: Charting a course for the future - I ;
Ramaswamy R Iyer; Economic and Political Weekly - March 31, 2001

In recent years there has been a growing perception of a looming water
scarcity. Water has suddenly become a favoured subject for seminars and
conferences all over the world. The UNDP, the World Bank and the Asian
Development Bank are seriously concerned about the projected water
scarcity. Academic institutions in several countries are engaged in
research programmes on the possibilities of conflict over scarce natural
resources, particularly water. There is a currently fashionable thesis
that future wars will be fought over water, not oil. That is a debatable
proposition, but the prognosis of acute water scarcity in the not too
distant future cannot easily be disputed. Several institutions and
networks have sprung up to deal with this and related matters: World Water
Commission, World Water Council, Global Water Partnership, and so on. A
series of ?Water Vision 2025? exercises were undertaken by different
countries in south Asia under the auspices of the Global Water Partnership
during the last three years in preparation for the World Water Forum held
at the Hague in March 2000. The ?Vision? exercises were partly national
(India Water Vision, Pakistan Water Vision, etc) and partly thematic
(Water for Food, Water for Nature, etc), and these were eventually brought
together into a ?South Asia Water Vision 2025? for presentation at the
Hague Forum.
....
Rajkot mayor up in arms against govt on water issue ;
The Times of India - April 14, 2001

RAJKOT: Mayor Ashok Dangar seems to be on the
warpath against the state government on the issue of
water supply. He has threatened to take all Congress
corporators to Gandhinagar if the promised 40 lakh
gallons of water from the Narmada project was not
released to Rajkot.
....
Rajkot staring at a major water crises ;
The Times of India - April 14, 2001

13,133 villages declared drought hit ;
The Times of India - April 13, 2001

Unrest over water issue growing ;
The Times of India - April 13, 2001

....
Unfortunately the state government has been unable to
provide a suitable solution for the same. Even though
Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel is going round the
region claiming that the BJP government has been
successful in bringing Narmada waters to the parched
lands, in reality the waters have not been able to
quench the thirst of even one-third of the people.
....
Narmada waters have been provided to major towns
like Rajkot, Bhavnagar and Amreli but the people of
thousands of small towns and villages continue to
make walk miles to fetch a pot of water. According to
district collectors and corporation officials of these
three districts, waters have not yet reached in the
quantum promised. The mere trickle does not help in
the distribution process leaving all dissatisfied.
....
The hype created on Narmada waters has proved to be
too shortlived as the waters have been unable to
quench the thirst of people and cool the frayed tempers
of citizens of Saurashtra.
Inadequate pumps, tanks add to Amreli's water problems ;
The Times of India - April 12, 2001

RAJKOT: Despite Narmada waters reaching Amreli, it
has not been possible for the nagarpalika to supply
water to residents regularly. The problem is that the
civic body does not have the necessary equipment to
supply water.
....
CM says Narmada water will usher in prosperity ;
The Times of India - April 11, 2001

BHAVNAGAR: Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel has
claimed that availability of the Narmada waters would
usher in prosperity among the people of Saurashtra and
Kutch regions, who were facing perennial shortage of
drinking water. 

While dedicating supply of Narmada waters at Sidsar
sump to 6 lakh residents of Bhavnagar recently, he said
if the earlier governments had taken proper action, the
water shortage would not have assumed such a critical
dimension.
....
If water is life, lives are doomed in Dhoraji ;
The Times of India - April 11, 2001

VMC to issue tax-free municipal bonds ;
The Times of India - April 10, 2001

VADODARA: The Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC)
will soon issue tax-free municipal bonds in order to
achieve the development plans in the 'Budget
2001-2002' and also gather money for its plan to draw
water from the Narmada Dam on a regular basis.
....


WCD debate

Large dams under the microscope ;
Himanshu Thakker; Himal South Asian - April 2001

Equity, efficiency, participatory decision-making, sustainability
and accountability are the core issues to be addressed in building
new large dams, according to a surprisingly refreshing consensus
report of the World Commission on Dams.
World Commission on Dams: Biased? ;
B N Navalawala; Economic and Political Weekly - March 24, 2001

.....
The mandate given to WCD was: (1) To review of development effectiveness
of large dams and assess alternatives for water resources and energy
development. (2) To develop internationally acceptable criteria,
guidelines and standards, where appropriate, for the planning, design,
appraisal, construction, operation, monitoring and decommissioning of
dams.

The commission, by itself was ill-equipped to analyse and study the data
available on the development effectiveness of large dams. But, it could
have used authentic information already available with various
international organisations like, International Commission on Large Dams
(ICOLD) (with 80 national committees), the International Commission on
Irrigation and Drainage (ICID) (which too, has 94 national committees);
Project Evaluation Reports of World Bank, etc, to arrive at conclusions
instead of relying on the reports and submissions of the NGOs who have
their own limited and to some extent 'skewed' perceptions on the subject
and lacked a thorough knowledge and expertise needed for guiding such a
body. The commission has indicated that its knowledge base consisted of
eight case studies of large dams (out of these seven dams were planned and
developed 20-70 years ago and are not recent ones), overall country review
of India and China and cross-check survey proforma filled for 125 dams out
of the existing 45,000 dams the world over. Thus, the WCD?s wisdom in
suggesting/recommending 'an agenda for change' is based on just a tiny
fraction, i e, a quarter per cent, of case studies as compared to the
present dam-affected population. For India, the country reviews were
prepared mostly by people of limited field knowledge who ignored even the
comments on the factual aspects of the country's development furnished by
the government of India.

The statistics provided in the report are open to many serious doubts
particularly with regard to displacement of people affected by large dams
(reportedly 40-80 million worldwide). The analysis of the data furnished
indicates that displacement due to the dams in the rest of the world other
than India and China prior to 1986 is almost nil, thus, exposing the
fallacy of the statements made in the report. Similar disinformation is
rampant in the report particularly with regard to Sardar Sarovar Project
(Gujarat) for which one of the members of the commission has nothing but
'rabid hate'. Thus, the data base on which the commission built-up its
theories on large dams suffer not only from inaccuracies and
inconsistencies, rocking the very foundation of their conclusions, but
also from the mindset to perceive with objectivity. The commission should
have studied and evaluated at least the availability of water in the
world?s different regions without storage and the minimum amount of water
needed to support the concerned population, before embarking on the
negative impacts of the large dams and rushing to conclusions. It should
have also carried out a study of the beneficial impact and the number of
people benefited in comparison to the people displaced so as to make the
report a balanced one.

As regards the mandate to assess alternatives for development, WCD has
failed in making an objective and scientific assessment. The efficacy of
small scale local solutions to meet the growing demand in the developing
countries, has not been evaluated. Instead, ?over-optimistic? views of the
future economies of largely untested technologies have been advanced in
the report.

As regards the second task of developing guidelines, etc, the report fails
to offer technical criteria and standards for the planning, design,
construction, etc, including decommissioning of dams. Instead, it focuses
principally on 'what needs to be done differently'. The commission's
decision-making framework is based on five-core values - equity,
sustainability, efficiency, participatory decision-making and
accountability. However, while applying the concepts of equity and
participatory decision-making, the commission appears to have been
concerned only with the groups adversely affected by the dams and have,
rather, preferred to ignore the beneficiaries who are also stakeholders.
Similarly, while considering the sustainability criterion, the need of
water scarce areas for fresh water input from outside to supplement their
needs, has been totally ignored in the report. The commission has also not
appreciated the compulsions of the developing countries - such as, the
widespread underemployment and migration of rural labour, particularly
tribals and weaker sections of the society in arid regions to faraway
places for livelihood during non-monsoon months for want of irrigation,
related works. The decision-making process recommended by the commission,
such as, 'free, prior and informed consent', is also impractical and
totally negates regional and national planning for economic development.
The WCD has not been able to produce a report as per the mandate given to
it. Its contents are full of generalities, not based on facts, the data
quoted are selective, information provided is misleading and the
conclusions drawn are biased.

[The views expressed by the author are his own and not necessarily of his
employer/government of India.]


Tehri dam

A saffron twist ;
Frontline - Volume 18 - Issue 08, Apr. 14 - 27, 2001

THE issue of big dams has always been a matter of controversy
and the Tehri dam, under construction now for nearly three decades,
has had its share of disputes as well. However, the recent entry
of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) in the discourse has not only
obfuscated the real issues, such as the seismicity of the dam area
and the rehabilitation of the displaced population, but given
a religious twist and a saffron hue to the controversy.
....
Govt gives in to Sangh Parivar, forms panel to review Tehri project ;
The Times of India - April 12, 2001

Compromise formula on Tehri to avert VHP stir ;
The Hindu - April 12, 2001

Panel to review Tehri dam ;
Rediff on the Net - April 11, 2001



Feature Article: Havoc of Tipaimukh High Dam Project - Aram Pamei

Economic and Political Weekly - March 31, 2001


The Naga Women Union, Manipur, would like to appeal to all like-minded
people to intervene and stop the signing of memorandum of understanding
(MoU) between the government of Manipur and the North-Eastern Electrical
Power Corporation (NEEPCO) concerning the proposed Tipaimukh rock-filled
high dam. There has been no other more dreaded state-sponsored human
rights abuse than the Tipaimukh high dam on Ahu (Barak) river located
about 500 metres downstream of the confluence of the Tuivai and Ahu
(Barak) rivers on the Manipur-Mizoram border. The proposed 162.80 metres
high dam, whose primary objective is to prevent frequent occurrences of
flood in the Cachar plain of Assam, will result in permanent submergence
of 275.50 sq kms of land surface in Manipur. This is against the National
Land Use Policy. The Manipur people's constitutional rights were
circumvented by secret approval of the project given during the period of
central rule in Manipur, according to a statement given on the floor of
the Manipur state assembly by the then minister of irrigation and flood
control, government of Manipur, L Chandramani Singh. The government of
Manipur is at present attempting to sign the MoU with NEEPCO without the
participation of the people, particularly the affected people of
Tamenglong district.

The main sources of livelihood of the people are agriculture and
horticulture. But with the construction of the Tipaimukh high dam more
than 67 villages will be deprived of their source of livelihood. Out of
the 67 villages, 16 will be completely submerged, whereas almost the
entire lowland of the rest of the villages will be submerged by the dam
along the banks of the three major river courses of Manipur - the Ahu
(Barak), the Alang (Irang) and Makhu (Makru) river systems which run
through the length of Tamenglong district of Manipur. Besides, it is
feared that many more villages may be affected by the water level of the
reservoirs during the rainy seasons. Thus the villages of Tamenglong
district will face a constant threat of submergence.

As a result of such massive submergence and displacement, the economic
life of the people with a heavy dependence on the surrounding forests will
be jeopardised. Over 15,000 people will be the direct victims of the dam
and will be rendered landless and homeless. They will be deprived of their
ancestral rights to their land and forest without any alternative source
of livelihood. They will be robbed of their natural heritage - their
access to natural resources, their land and forests which constitute the
mainstay of any tribal economy. The implementation of the Tipaimukh high
dam will destroy all potential of the Ahu (Barak) catchment area forever.
The dam will mean virtually the total destruction of the world of the
Zeliangrong people. The project will submerge altogether 60 kms of
National Highway No 53, the only alternative lifeline to NH-39 (the
Imphal-Dimapur road) at three different points with two major bridges.

The Zeliangrong people who live in these areas, like any other tribal
people, do not lead an individualised, commodity-governed life, but live
in a well knit web of community life. Their ancestral emotional bonds to
their land, the mother-earth, constitute their cultural and psychological
frame of mind and they cannot be compromised or negotiated. The
submergence of the Ahu (Barak) waterfalls, the biggest and the most
beautiful natural gift in Manipur, will destroy an important aspect of
their heritage - the innumerable myths and legends woven around the
waterfalls, which are an inalienable part of their bank of memories,
inherited through centuries. The high watermark of the dam will also
destroy five most important lakes located just above the Ahu waterfall
where the magical sword of Jadonang, the national hero of the Nagas, is
believed to be hidden. All these priceless and inalienable parts of their
cultural heritage cannot be left to mindless destruction by the dam
project authorities.

The long stretch of the reservoir of the 162.80 metres high dam will
further divide the people in terms of geo-administrative units, thereby
making them politically vulnerable to outside influence and domination.
The implementation of the project and its consequent displacement and
destruction pose a grave threat to the people's vibrant democratic system
of consensual decision-making regarding their lives.

We are concerned over the way the Tipaimukh high dam project authorities
are out to play with and devastate the land and forests and the fabric of
the lives of the Zeliangrong as well as the Hmar people. The Brahmaputra
Board, Guwahati, the Central Water Commission, New Delhi, the
North-Eastern Council, Shillong, and the North-Eastern Electrical Power
Corporation, Shillong are all party to this plan of virtual genocide of
the tribal people in the north-east. This is clearly discernible from
their secretive ways of planning and implementation, their holding back
every bit of information, their rejection of the local people's
participation and their total disregard for the tribal people's national
and cultural heritage.

From our own visit and observation as well as the reports available to us,
it is absolutely clear that the Tipaimukh high dam project site is located
on a major seismic zone No V characterised by earthquakes of magnitude 7
or more on the Richter scale and which has experienced more than five such
earthquakes. The most recent earthquake that took place on April 5, 1999
measured 5 on the Richter scale. The catastrophic 1984 Silchar earthquake
was well within the Surma basin, Nungma thrust, Ahu (Barak)-Makhu (Makru)
thrust, etc. The fact that the dam rests on a fault line which is occupied
by the river (Ahu) itself makes it prone to reactivation any time, causing
vertical lateral displacement along the pre-existing faults and thrusts.
This suggests that tremendous damages cannot be ruled out. A rock-filled
dam upto a height of 162.80 metres has not yet been attempted anywhere.
Hence the dam's structural design in the geologically unstable area is
questionable and the project authorities must be held directly responsible
for engineering such natural calamities.

The earthquake at Uttarkashi hit the conscience of certain
environmentally-committed engineers who immediately organised the National
Convention of Environmental Engineers at Mangalore on October 28-29, 1991.
This convention passed a number of important resolutions two of which are
as follows:
(1) Environmental Impact Appraisal of all major developmental projects
such as industries, power plants and river projects should be made
mandatory.
(2) Environmental Impact Appraisal reports submitted by proponents of
projects should be made public and public debate invited in the concerned
regions.

Manipur also falls in one of the genetic hot spot zones of the world where
rare biodiversity resources are found. The project will submerge the
exotic and rare flora and fauna and rich gene pools. Instead of conducting
an up to date survey, the project authorities simply refer to the early
botanical survey record of the region (Flora of British India, 1872-1897)
and maintain no record of plant gathering and animal hunting with
reference to Tipaimukh project.

In view of the above, the Naga Women Union, Manipur would like to appeal
all the like-minded individuals, groups and organisations to please send
airmail letters/telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/e-mails addressing the
following issues:

(1) The policy to control frequent flooding of the Cachar plain at the
cost of the traditional dwellers of Tamenglong district, which will effect
a permanent submergence of 275.50 sq km of land surface or more along the
Barak basins is against the National Policy of Land Use.
(2) The resolution of the National Convention of Environmental Engineers,
Mangalore, 1991 that that Environmental Impact Appraisal of all major
projects should be made mandatory which was supported by the statement of
the president, K R Narayanan, made on the eve of the Republic Day that
the livelihood and unique culture of the tribals should be protected when
development projects are undertaken in areas inhabited by them.
(3) Meaningful investigations into the flora and fauna of the area, the
lifestyles and the socio-cultural and economic heritage of the people to
be displaced and/or affected be undertaken.
(4) All reports be made public and public debate on the issues involved be
invited.
(5) The proposed signing of the MoU between the government of Manipur and
NEEPCO be stopped immediately until all feasibility reports are made
available and all investigations in respect of the social, economic,
cultural, geological, environmental and ecological impact on the people
and the areas are carried out, completed and discussed in full knowledge,
cooperation and participation of the local people, especially the
Zeliangrong and the Hmar people whose lives are at stake.

Aram Pamei
Secretary, Naga Women's Union, Manipur, Imphal